Despite absent crew chief, Brad Keselowski runs third at Phoenix

Driver Brad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe are a potent combination—together they won the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

Keselowski proved Sunday that he and Wolfe can be just as effective when they’re separated by a continental divide.

With Wolfe on the pit box on Friday, Keselowski won the pole for Sunday’s The Profit on CNBC 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. After Wolfe flew back to North Carolina on Saturday to witness the birth of his first child, Keselowski ran third in the Sprint Cup race.

Team engineer Brian Wilson and Team Penske’s director of competition for the Nationwide Series, Greg Erwin, called the race for Keselowski.

“They did a great job,” Keselowski said. “Still had two more spots to go. All things considered, I thought they did really well. I was very proud of the effort.”

Wolfe sent Keselowski a congratulatory text after the driver climbed from the No. 2 Ford.

Not to be outdone, Wolfe also deserved congratulations after wife Aleah gave birth to a son, Caden Paul Wolfe, on Sunday morning.